Seahawks say they won't be big players in free agency
The Seahawks began free agency with a dozen players headed to the open market, a wish list that's bound to include a wide receiver or two...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks began free agency with a dozen players headed to the open market, a wish list that's bound to include a wide receiver or two and one overriding question.
Namely, just what the heck is the NFL marketplace going to look like as teams negotiate with free agents? Teams were allowed to begin negotiating at 9 p.m. PST Thursday.
"I don't think anybody really knows what's going to happen," Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said. "Is the market going to just crap out?"
There are some signs that point in that direction.
Baseball's free-agent market turned out to be more cash-barren than many players expected this offseason. NFL teams like Carolina and Washington recently laid off employees, as has the league, and commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly will take a 20 percent pay cut.
Still, most people expect that at least one team will be offering to leave big fat sacks of cash on the doorstep for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who is considered at the top of this class, along with linebacker Ray Lewis.
The list of Seahawks headed to free agency includes fullback Leonard Weaver, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and offensive linemen Ray Willis and Floyd Womack, who might have been impressive enough as injury replacements in 2008 to become starters elsewhere.
The Seahawks' top free agent would have been linebacker Leroy Hill, but Seattle used the franchise tag, thereby making him a restricted free agent. The inability to come to an agreement on a long-term contract is part of a larger trend in the league, one that reflects a difference of opinion between teams and players on what the market is going to be.
"Not many deals are getting done," Ruskell said. "In terms of what the agents believe is happening or going to happen is different than the clubs, so we have this divide right now."
That gap is about to get sorted out.
The Seahawks won't be as aggressive in free agency as they were two years ago, when they signed defensive end Patrick Kerney and added safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell.
"We're not going to be the big players," Ruskell said of the team's free-agent plans.
The Seahawks won't necessarily be as tightly focused as last year, when they were determined to improve the rushing attack, signing Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett and changing coaches for the offensive line and running backs.
Seattle's offseason priorities aren't so clear-cut this year, but the one position that will be addressed is wide receiver.
"We certainly don't want to get in a situation that we had last year with the receivers," Ruskell said. "That was scary in that a couple of injuries, and boom, we couldn't function."
Does that mean Seattle will be pursuing a top-shelf upgrade like T.J. Houshmandzadeh of Cincinnati or Laveranues Coles of the Jets? Or perhaps it's a second-tier player like Bryant Johnson of San Francisco or Nate Washington of Pittsburgh.
Those are just a couple of the questions that will be answered during a free-agent period pocked with uncertainty.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
|On the market|
|Teams could begin negotiating with free agents at 9 p.m. Thursday. These are the Seahawks' unrestricted free agents:|
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